As I have previously mentioned I am a Yelpaholic. Won’t go anywhere without looking at the reviews beforehand and then writing my own after I’ve graced the establishment with my presence. Okay cool, story time:
Once upon a time a coworker and I wanted to try something new for lunch besides basic Chipotle and the café downstairs in our office building. We took to Yelp (duh) and found Matsuya Japanese Restaurant. Only having a 30 minute lunch break we ordered food with the intentions of picking it up. We went with the Japanese BBQ chicken and rock shrimp kamikaze with a side of spring rolls. My friend had a back and forth over whether you get soup and salad or just one of the two. The website said both, the woman at the restaurant said the website is wrong. Strike #1. I told my friend to just put the meal on my card as long as she picks it up. Our meals were about $10 each and the spring rolls were a whopping $8.50 which my friend neglected to tell me until she got off the phone. This was Strike #2. She got the food and it was good, definitely a step up from basic Chinese food, but I couldn’t get over the overpriced pinky sized spring rolls. So obviously I did what I do best and took to Yelp. Scenario ended with me getting a response from Bernard, the owner of Matsuya, offering me a gift certificate for $25 to compensate the spring rolls and try the place out again. He told me that the reason food is expensive is due to the location and price of rent (expensive), their high quality ingredients and the atmosphere (restaurant looks like an aquarium). He said because I did not dine in there was no need for me to pay the exorbitant prices.
So on another occasion I decided to try them out again mainly, because I had the gift certificate. Once again I’m at work, but this time I send a different coworker to get the food since the other one didn’t work there anymore. Details. I ordered the 3 roll special for $12. Got a Philly roll, salmon avocado roll and an Alaskan roll which I had never tried before. When she picked up the food the staff told her that the certificate was fake and they gave her a hard time and mocked her, but let her use it. This time around the food was not that great and especially after I heard how my friend was treated I was done with this place for good. I took to Yelp once again to state this. I guess technically this was their Strike out.
I took to Yelp one day to review Kobeyaki (an excellent place, blog post to follow), when I saw a message from my BFF Bernard. This time around he apologized once again and offered a friend and I to come by to eat a complimentary meal and finally have a good experience with Matsuya. I love free food, so I agreed to it and we arranged for me to come on a Saturday with my friend Jennifer, who was ridiculed by the staff member (who was fired) who thought the certificate was fake.
Upon arriving at Matsuya I was greeted by Bernard who was dressed casually and knew exactly who I was (thanks to my Yelp photo). The place was not that busy, but immediately I saw the ambience that he was referred to. The place was packed with fish tanks filled with expensive fish that cumulatively cost approximately the same as my college tuition.
After being seated, Bernard told us we would be sampling an array of small plates from the menu and at the end of the meal he would show me the new lunch menu and get my opinion. He then introduced us to Linda, our server and the festivities began.
We started off with drinks. We went with lychee martinis. Linda was sure to not be skimpy with the Grey Goose. The drinks were strong the way I like it, but still sweet from the lychee. It was the perfect start to a fantastic meal.
We started with an avocado salad. Jen, a huge fan of green salads, but an avocado enemy decided to give it a chance and didn’t mind it. The salad with fresh tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots and beets with ginger dressing on the side was delicious. My palate was ready for more.
When we were first seated, Bernard asked us if we eat spicy food. I told him I eat everything while Jen told him she couldn’t handle the heat. “Terriyaki sauce is spicy to me.” Unfortunately for her he had already chosen what we were going to eat. Next up was soup, but it wasn’t basic miso. Nope, we had the red seafood bisque with clams and a picante broth. At first neither of us knew what it was. It was served in a bowl with a miniature glass pitcher of additional soup. It was not too spicy, but definitely had a kick to it. It was light and the clams were tasty with the broth from the soup. Jen was not a big fan due to the heat, but we agreed that it was still good and were enthusiastic as to what was coming next.
Next up were Kobe beef and Brie sliders with caramelized bermuda onions. The meat was melt in your mouth delicious. The flavor from the cheese and onions was scrumptious. Not to be corny, but they were honestly little bites of heaven. Each item tasted so great and I did not even get the chance to want more, because something else delicious would be placed in front of me.
At this point we were starting to get full, but the food kept on coming. Spicy tuna crunch rice was next on the roster. Last time I had similar dish to this was at Nobu 57 in the city, which ironically was another free meal I had with Jen (thank you pharmaceutical reps). This dish was pretty good. Even though the crunchy rice did not have enough flavor for me, the tuna was flavorful and the freshness from the seafood with the crispy crunchy rice was a great balance and taste for the palate. The scallion and masago gave the tuna it’s x factor. Dip the whole thing in soy and it was perfection.
The place is called Matsuya SUSHI restaurant, but at this point we had yet to have sushi. This quickly changed. Next up we were treated to Omakase, a plethora of the chef’s favorite rolls. All of the fish was fresh and appetizing. This was the first time I tried uni (see the orange thing in the picture below), which both Jen and I weren’t crazy about despite Linda’s ranting and raving about it. Otherwise it was the best sushi I’ve eaten in my life to date.
After the sushi we were pretty sure the meal was over, but nope not the case. At this point Jen looked like she was going to throw up. I was full, but hey free food, bring it on. Next we had the yakisoba pan noodles with beef and shrimp. At first I saw the meat and it was pink and I though “ew,” but Jen apparently eats her meat like this on the regular and convinced me that it was good. She was right. I normally like my meat done medium well, but this meat was tender and melt in your mouth delicious. The flavor of the noodles with the beef and shrimp was amazing. This was the perfect last dish and Jen was really upset that she was so full and could not really enjoy it. Her loss. G-d bless my bottomless pit stomach.
To cleanse our palate at the end of the meal and to finally end this feast, we had the most basic dessert one could have… ice cream. However, there was nothing basic about it. We had green tea, black cherry and French vanilla ice cream and it was the perfect ending to an amazing meal.
Finally Matsuya redeemed itself and provided a memorable and palatable meal. At the end, Bernard presented the new and improved lunch menu to us. It caters to young students, young adults, housewives with their husbands’ credit cards, business man and all others in Great Neck and surrounding Long Island and Queens neighborhoods. Linda told us to come anytime and she will happily serve us. We left a well-deserved tip and left. I have yet to return, but if I do there are still many meals I’d want to try. If you’re on Long Island in Great Neck, NY. Definitely check out Matsuya and tell Bernard, Dominique from Yelp sent you.